Sometimes the loneliness scrapes at your skin, the longing to belong, to be accepted. You watch the others laugh and smile and bask in the glow of community and you know, you are convinced, deep in the bruised, dark places of your heart that there must be something wrong with you. There is a reason for it. You made so many mistakes, listened to the voices in the night too many times, voices that promised love but delivered emptiness, voices that were done with you when the morning came.
And suddenly you find yourself on the outside looking in, on the outside of youthful friendships, on the outside of childhood, on the outside of your community, on the outside of everything. And on the inside, you long, yearn, grieve for that connection. And these feelings of rejection are too strong, too hard, they burn your heart and your throat is parched, thirsty, dehydrated by the absence of presence, the presence of your soul in another’s mind. So you pretend you don’t feel it, don’t care, don’t wish with every fibre of your being that you were connected somehow to someone who saw you, who cared. You push it all away, down, down into the depths and you numb your heart just to keep it beating. Avoid them: Strategy A.
This where we find ourselves sometimes. Building walls to avoid the pain. Building barriers around our souls in retaliation for theirs that shut us out, shut us down, shut us deep within the cage of our emotions. In the end though the only thing we achieve is isolation.
That is what she was doing. This girl. This day. This day which would change every other day after that one, for her, for her community. Isolated and recklessly alone, she was avoiding everyone else even if it meant being out on her own in the blazing Palestinian sun at midday. AD30.
Here, in this place she meets Jesus.
“Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph.” John 4:4-5
He had to go through Samaria it says. Had to. Needed to. That’s the interesting thing though, actually, He didn’t have to. It wasn’t His only option, it wasn’t the only route. There was another way, a safer way, the way that most devout Jews took. The way that bypassed Samaria. When Jesus ‘had’ to go through Samaria, He was taking the road less travelled (for devout Jews). Most Jews avoided Samaria like the plague; a plague shaped like prejudice with symptoms like hate. Samaria was full of Samaritans. Enough said.
But this journey Jesus is on. the one He’s been on since before time began, it has never been about avoiding the unlovely, the ‘enemy’, the lost, but finding them. Everyone of us.
He needed to go through Samaria. He had to go through Samaria, perhaps for no other reason than her, this girl avoiding everyone else. The text tells us nothing else of His business there, except that He was tired.
“Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.” John 4:6